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Jakimar 07-24-2013 06:01 AM

european rooky! advice wanted
Hello Everybody!

Me and my family of 4 planning a big trip to Canada and USA in early 2015. We live in the netherlands, europe and want to step out our comfort-zone for at least 6 months. We've already seen a lot in both country but this was always in a normal car and without kids.

Life changed and we try to enjoy it as much as possible.

First thing first, planning already started and my portion is searching and buying a home for the road.

We want to travel for a total of somewhere around 12K miles and want to do a lot of sight seeing during our stay at the CG.

The question for us is:

Some people say go for a Class C, looks nice but then we have to use it for sightseeing too or get a toad and this feels expensive.

We (read me) thinking about a 5th and a truck so we can use the truck for sightseeing. We are thinking in the 26ft size for a 5th. but I have no idea what size of truck we need.

Oh BTW we want to buy used because after the trip we will park it at my wife's uncle and sell it again (or just try to immigrate and keep it :laugh: )

We are on a budget for around 20-25K for the total combo.

What are the advise you experts can give us.

Go for a 5th or a Class C? We will stay at some CG for a week or longer and then explore the area.

Thanks in advance. John-John

Ps. Be patient on my reply we live in a different timezone!

jimcumminsw 07-24-2013 08:30 AM

That is going to be tough to do on your budget of 20K-25K. You could spend that on just a good use pulling vehicle alone. The used trailer could cost you as much too. Than a used class C might be as expensive also. I would look into a bigger budget for the vehicles and be willing to spend around 25K for a used diesel pick-up truck that can sit 5 to 6 people in it. Than a used 5er could cost you as much as 15K or more in good condition depending on the year it was manufactured. Older ones will be less expensive but might not be in very good condition to use depending on how it was maintained.

Jim W.

dayle1 07-24-2013 08:51 AM

You are right to skip the class C, without a toad you have to pack up the home each day just to go site seeing. But with a toad, the class C can and does work for many people. But space inside the class C is much less than in a fifth wheel , load capacity for cargo is less, and used rigs are likely to have higher maintenance costs with two drivetrains.

I think you are on the right track with a fifth wheel and truck, especially given your target price. Length of the fifth wheel doesn't determine size of truck, it is weight that is critical. Both total weight of the trailer and how much of that weight is carried by the truck. Based on what you have stated, a 3/4 ton gas truck should meet your weight needs and be closest to your price needs.

Now for some terms: GCVWR = gross combined vehicle weight rating, or how much loaded truck plus loaded trailer can weigh. GVWR = gross vehicle weight rating, both truck and trailer will have separate numbers. GAWR = gross axle weight rating, how much weight each truck and trailer axle can carry. First step is to add trailer's GVWR with truck's GVWR and make sure the total is less than GCVWR. Second, the trailer's pin weight will be between 15-25% of GVWR and that when added to the truck's unloaded weight needs to be under the truck's GVWR. There is a lot more detail involved, but again a 3/4 ton gas truck should work.

One possibility in your searching is to find a truck and fiver combo for sale as a package deal, it will probably be cheaper and easier than buying each one separately and then you just need to verify weights. If you find a combo you are interested in, you can post the info to get feedback from forum members.

Check out the 'classified' tab on this forum, below is combo that is within your budget as an example.

RVThere 07-24-2013 09:47 AM


If your family of 4 does not mind being close or your children are young, you may want to consider a Class 'B+' which has the layout of a class C but in a smaller 21 foot package. These are much easier to park and maneuver. If you are at a location for an extended period of time, you can also rent a car to drive around for a few days.

I bought a 2002 R-Vision in February for my sons to use on a cross country trip. I paid about $21,000 and put in about $2000 more on new brakes and tires. So it would fall into your budget. Plus you save the hassle of finding a truck that matches the 5th wheel.

My son and three of his friends spent weeks in it with no complaints. There is a couch, dinette, and a separate bathroom.

Here is a link to a similar one that is for sale on line:
R vision motorhome - Yakaz For sale

This one is sold but it has pics to show you the layout:
R-Vision Class B+ Motorhomes - Model 21

My opinion is to keep it simple with the purchase of just one unit that serves your driving and sleeping needs. Also there is a strong market for these smaller motorhomes so it will be an easy sell after your adventure is complete!

Good luck!

bdickson 07-24-2013 10:18 AM

Welcome to iRV2! Here's an off the wall thought: you're prepared to spend $25,000 for a 6 month trip. Have you considered renting an RV?

myredracer 07-24-2013 10:56 AM

I think renting might be the better way to go too. If you buy something, you have to sell it when you are ready to leave. Selling RVs is not easy, especially in the current economic climate.

I don't know much about motorhomes and can't offer anything there. But it terms of a trailer, I would suggest looking at a travel trailer. Getting a 5th wheel typically means having to buy a stronger and more powerful truck due to the higher pin weight compared to a 5th wheel. You can find a lightweight travel trailer of maybe around 28' with one slideout that is fairly spacious and comfortable and can be towed by some 1/2 ton trucks. You'll get a lot more for your money by getting a travel trailer and a basic 1/2 ton truck.

Be very, very wary of weights. In terms of a travel trailer, I would use the published GVWR rating for "towing capacity". Then use 15% of that to be on the safe side for tongue weight. Do not use published dry weights for sizing a truck. For the truck, "towing capacity" is only part of the picture. You really need to look at the payload capacity too. Don't go by the figure published by the manufacturer or what is on the door jamb sticker which are typically much higher than what the actual payload capacity is. This can make choosing a truck difficult in advance. I think the best thing to do there is ask aroundon the various RV forums what owners have found. The actual payload capacity is found by weighing the truck and subtracting it from the GVWR weight on the door jamb. The same applies in the case of a 5th wheel.

You'll need a weight distributing hitch (WDH) and sway control is highly recommended. This can be the basic add-on friction bar type.

Have you decided where you are going to camp when travelling? Have you considered a membership in a campground network like Thousand Trails, Coast to Coast, etc? That way you can always get into a campground since you'd be a member. You can find "used" memberships at quite a discount by looking on the internet. It will not take very long to pay back the amount you paid on a membership versus the full cost of what you'd otherwise pay at various campgrounds of something typically like $50 a night. The only downside is that any one particular campground organization does not always have one in the area that you want to camp in. We have access to 4 or 5 campground affiliates (that is, Thousand Trailes, etc) through the membership we have at KM Resorts in Washington State.

Good luck and enjoy your trip here!

Our son just came back from Amsterdam where he spent 4 months at the university there. He loves Holland so much he did not want to come back. He even learned some Dutch and can get by there speaking it.

danes-on-tour 07-24-2013 11:33 AM


Check out our website. This may help you with some of the "problems" that you will face doing what you plan to do as a non-US resident.

Renting an RV for 6 month is not cheap. This site may give you an idea. You may find something cheaper somewhere, but it looks like a beat-up 10 year old Class C will set you back around $15,000. If you want something newer (but not new), you will end up with twice that.

Beware: Buying is so easy you would not believe it, and selling is so difficult that you would not believe it either. Years ago we did exactly what you are planning, and we made arrangements with the people who sold us our setup, that they would buy it back after 6 month. Well - they lied! They went back on their word, and we ended up with our RV setup being shipped back to Europe.

I am unfamiliar with the import laws and the taxation of vehicles in The Netherlands, but have you checked out the option to buy a decent Class C in the US, and after 6 month have it shipped back to Amsterdam? Class C's are popular in Germany and France, and it could (maybe) be easier to sell it there. Just a thought.

Here is a good website for checking out prices on used RV's.

Good luck to you :thumb:

Dutch Star David 07-24-2013 11:47 AM

Most fifth wheels aren't set up to sleep 5 people. If I were you, I'd look into renting a class C. Drive it to a central location, rent a car there and drive for sight seeing. Then move on to the next location, rent another car, etc. Your budget is pretty unrealistic to buy much of anything. Plus, you have to sell the rig and truck when you are done and it's very unlikely that you will be able to sell for close to what you paid.

The Danes are experts at this so their advice is probably the best you'll get.

dayle1 07-24-2013 04:52 PM


Originally Posted by dlovitt (Post 1656157)
Most fifth wheels aren't set up to sleep 5 people.

There are plenty of BH (bunk house) fifth wheels, travel trailers and even class C units that handle families, just not many class A units.


Originally Posted by dlovitt (Post 1656157)
If I were you, I'd look into renting a class C. Drive it to a central location, rent a car there and drive for sight seeing. Then move on to the next location, rent another car, etc.

Might as well just rent a car once and stay in motels, besides finding rental car agencies in or near places like Big Bend, Grand Canyon, Death Valley, and many other places isn't going to work very well.


Originally Posted by dlovitt (Post 1656157)
Your budget is pretty unrealistic to buy much of anything. Plus, you have to sell the rig and truck when you are done and it's very unlikely that you will be able to sell for close to what you paid.

Agreed, finding a good used deal is always difficult, but disagree that depreciation will be significant over 6-12 months.

Dutch Star David 07-24-2013 09:31 PM

Agreed, finding a good used deal is always difficult, but disagree that depreciation will be significant over 6-12 months.

Difference between retail and wholesale can be a lot.

Dutch Star David 07-24-2013 09:33 PM

[COLOR="rgb(255, 0, 255)"]Might as well just rent a car once and stay in motels, besides finding rental car agencies in or near places like Big Bend, Grand Canyon, Death Valley, and many other places isn't going to work very well. [/COLOR]

Didn't see the poster was going to Big Bend or Death Valley. Also, poster stated HE WANTED TO GO IN AN RV!

All I expressed was my opinion. Can't help it you are so much smarter than I am.

gggplaya 07-24-2013 10:44 PM

Keep in mind that renting a car in the states is fairly cheap compared to Europe. Internet is also usually free in most places including mcdonalds, something i also noticed Europe like to charge alot for. A typical small car like a ford focus is about $25-$30 per day in the states.

But i don't really think that's necessary, i would just park outside the city near a train terminal and take the subway into places like NYC. All the major cities have good public bus and rail. I have a smaller car and live 2 hours from NYC, but i still take a train into the city because there is nowhere to park, and they charge you $15-$40 a day to park anywhere near tourist areas.

I would honestly rule out a 5th wheel, used ones are very heavy. They only recently started pushing to make lightweight 5ers, so a used one in your price range isn't going to be light, and will require a bigger tow vehicle to pull it. Not to mention, engines from that era aren't all that powerful compared to todays truck with more gears as well. Most people almost exclusively towed with diesel trucks with 5ers from that era.

Here's a 23foot class C for $21k, and you can get a small tow car like a scion(toyota) XA, chevy aveo, or something similar for less than $5k.

A travel trailer and something like a nissan titan aren't unreasonable. 100k miles is fine on a titan, i would say it's at about the half life of the vehicle, and since you only need it for 6 months, it should be fine. You can find a 2004-2006ish nissan titan for about $12k that will suit your needs. I recommend the titan because it has a 5 speed transmission as opposed to 4 speeds in ford and GM products of that era, and the tundra of that era was a garbage tow vehicle. The titan also has massive torque, and it was designed to deliver it very low. It's a great towing V8. So that leaves you with about $13k to find a half decent used travel trailer with tow bars. Personally i would also recommend a well insulated one if you'll be living in it, something made by northwoods like the artic fox or nash are great in this aspect.

YC1 07-25-2013 06:30 AM

Never buy anything you have to feed or fuel. Rent it. If it breaks, they fix it. When done, park it. If it does not suit you, rent a different one.

You may want to rent a car long term and just drive it versus towing. I know it is a bit extra in fuel but getting things set up for towing is expensive.

Have fun when you are here. We love to meet people at the national parks. Often we find more non english speakers and that makes for some fun. Two children walking past our camp last year were noticed due to their shoes. They were made of wood which brought immediate smiles to us. Our conversation was met with ear to ear smiles as the children practiced their English with us. So again, welcome when you get here and you are on the right forum for the best help.

Jakimar 07-25-2013 04:32 PM

Thanks everybody for your comments and advice. I know it will be difficult to decide and explain what our plans will come to. After more reading on the forum and further on the net including the advice from a few I think I can say.

We will not rent, I like a little risk in life and buying used won't scare me. Renting is easy and worry free but it feels like trowing away all our money. We can even sell the rig we end up for half the price we bought it and still make profit compared to renting for this long term.

For now it feels like the best deal will be a car with a travel trailer, ok it's not the big american rv we first wanted but we have to stay focused on our budget and be fair to ourselves. He we are from holland and are used to small thing. Roads, cars, houses and travel trailer, they are all smaller then with you.

If someone owns a 23ft trailer in holland then he owns about one of the biggest you can drive over here. They also cost a fortune compared to the US.

But let stay on the path of searching for the deal we think we will like. the reading and thinking it over brought us for now buying a nissan armada from '05 till '07 and a travel trailer of about 26ft with 1slide. I found a combo someone drove with I really nice floor-plan for us. We have to keep in mind that at least 6 of our friends couples and singles and some family will fly over and hangout with us for a few days or week or so. We do not mind to squeeze in a bit for making room to sleep and always make it a joy for the visit to stay with us. We hope the weather will be nice enough to live as much as possible outside, again we are from holland cold and rain is normal for us.

Selling the combo we will buy may not be the idea. Like I mentioned if we find a good place to stay we go back to holland and will try to get a greencard. If we stay the car an tt will come in handy. And even if we decide to go back we can let it sit on my wife's uncle his land. He can sell it or what so ever we want. I hope we end up in the us or canada. My life and body needs a U-turn. I'm still young (39) and I'm self-employed upholsterer in one off the best area's holland can be but several thing for me make me wanted to start somewhere else again. We have 2 young kids we want to give a good future where working and being self supported is still possible.

Holland isn't feeling like my and my kids future land, staying here is more getting sucked in the web of the europe government and there taxes and laws. The freedom we had when I grew up is rapidly declining. It's probably the same for you guys but if you dive into it you will find out. Or just ask me what you want to know. You ask me anything, I'm openminded and not scared for confronting questions. One example about the freedom we are loosing, cars! A gallon gas is about $8 and we've got road tax. My car is a 16 year old volvo v70 of 3300lbs and is costing me $1000 annually. I will not even talk about our income tax (30 till 50%).

But ok enough complaining. Let's stick to the fun things in life and preparing this trip is great fun!

So for now thank you every one we will still consider all the advice and comment you gave us and I will use a lot of it, campground membership is something will look into, I think being informed in CG can save us a lot of money during the trip and I rather spend it on a good bbq and beer/wine then the CG.
For us it's time to go to bed, 11.30 p.m. With 2 young kids feels like I need every minute of sleep we can find.

By the way, this week holland is different, the sun is shining and it bloody hot. 35 celcius, fahrenheit?? Do your math, it's fun to learn from each other.

Have a great day all! We already had. LOL.

John john

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